Letter: On the climate, trust the scientists
Now that the global warming debate has slowed, thought this would be a good time to summarize. Climate deniers usually hate big government and scientists. I am not fond of big government either; I am trusting of most scientists. Corporations are interested in applied science for product development; however, corporations leave most basic research to government, which uses either government scientists or government contracts to university scientists and some corporate scientists. The scientists are working on the high-risk cutting edge of science—so give them a break!
Global climate warming concerns was not how it began, but it began with the idea of how well could we predict climate. If we could predict areas of winter cold, we would know where to allocate the most heating fuel. If we could predict dry or wet areas, we could investigate where to allocate drought-resistant crops and where to allocate water-resistant crops. Then suddenly the concern for climate warming became apparent rather than just the economic benefit of climate prediction.
Prior to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in 1989, there was an International Committee for Climate Research. I was NASA’s sole representative to that committee’s Panel for Climate Studies, held in May 1978 in Alpbach, Austria. The following week in Innsbruck, Austria, I gave a paper on climate measurement instrumentation and data sampling. I later gave the presentation to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., to elicit their support for the United States’ first global climate research program for space satellites. Some points to ponder:
1. Weather studies include snapshots from space of weather patterns. Climate study is a statistical science requiring billions of ground measurements and billions upon billions of measurements from space. Surprisingly it should be an easier task.
2. We have gone through many Ice Ages and planetary warmings. What is different now is this is the first time we will go through climate warming since the Industrial Revolution, man’s so-called impact on the planet.
3. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have lifetimes of 100 years. It is too late to stop global warming—the gases are already in the atmosphere. What we hope to accomplish is not to make it any worse!
4. Stop citing misleading areas of unusual warming or unusual amounts of snow/ice. It is the integrated average temperature of the Earth over months that is important to global climate change. For instance, while we had an unusually cold North America, Australia was having record heat at the Australian Open tennis, having players with heat exhaustion and cancelled matches due to heat for the first time ever.
Deniers want to leave the environment to corporations and the man on the street. As for trusting government, corporations or the average man, I don’t trust any of them. We know of the recent charges against government offices. How about corporations such as the recent debacles at General Motors? How about energy production in North Dakota where the driller admits wasting 30 percent of the natural gas? Governor Dalrymple said: “Everybody feels it’s a huge waste, to say nothing of the environmental impact.” Russell Rankin, a regional manager, said: “We absolutely don’t want to flare and waste gas, but if we drill a $10 million well, we’ve got lots of investors and they can’t wait to get that revenue back.” They are not ready to handle the production, but they go ahead anyway and waste millions in order to get something back to the investors! So much for corporations!
As for trusting man’s judgment? Los Angeles knows it has serious smog and pollution. So here is the most serious area in the United States, and how many people carpool? I’ve driven all the highways of California, and the answer is 5 percent or less to near zero! Man has also set up a brand new volunteer group—people cleaning up our highways and byways from garbage and trash that is strewn everywhere. So much for man caring!
Lastly, if global warming scientists are wrong, we will have damaged the fossil fuel industry and their workers. In the past in America, new technology jobs have always sprung up, though sporadic. Question is will it be enough for jobs. If the climate warming deniers are wrong, we will have doomed our young children and grandchildren!
Charles V. Woerner